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Exclusive: Hali Ford talks 'Survivor' -- Jeff Varner is a really good guy, things have gone way too far


By Elizabeth Kwiatkowski, 04/24/2017 

Hali Ford was eliminated from Survivor: Game Changers after the two tribes merged during Wednesday night's special two-hour episode of Season 34 on CBS.

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The merged Maku Maku tribe sent Hali, a 26-year-old attorney from San Francisco, CA, packing at Tribal Council on Night 21 with 7 out of 13 votes because she was an outsider of the new tribe along with Michael Bradshaw; however, Michael had Cirie Fields on her side working some magic.

Many castaways also suspected Hali -- who previously finished 11th on Survivor: Worlds Apart -- had a hidden Immunity Idol, so they were hoping to flush it out of the game. In the second half of the latest episode, the tribe voted off Ozzy Lusth.

During an exclusive interview with Reality TV World on Thursday, Hali talked about her Survivor: Game Changers experience. Below is the concluding portion of what she had to say.

Reality TV World: I know you campaigned to take out Zeke Smith and suggested Sierra Dawn Thomas or Brad Culpepper would be a good target as well, but did you ever think about campaigning to take out Michaela Bradshaw since she was the other obvious outsider of the group?

Hali Ford: No, I didn't want Michaela to leave because she was one of my closer allies and I was not in a position to be voting against my game. I just wanted people to make a big move! Michaela was not a big move! Why vote out the floaters? Don't do that. You vote out the strategic threats, the physical threats, and everyone was doing everything but that.

So, no. Maybe for my own gameplay it would've been good, but at the moment, it wasn't good for my longterm strategy, and I just wanted people to make a real move. So I wasn't going to be a part of that.

Reality TV World: So were you happy watching last night's episode back in which the tribe sent Ozzy Lusth packing? Because other than Ozzy, the tribe was considering targeting Sierra, Andrea Boehlke and Zeke at one point or another.

Hali Ford: Yes! Yeah. I was so happy my first time as a juror. When it was the Ozzy vote, I was so happy to see that people were making big moves. Because I was afraid that it was going to be a really boring season. It's kind of like when you graduate from a school, you care about their rankings after you graduate, because it speaks about you.

I wanted this to be a great season, and I was really concerned that no one was going to make a move and that we were just going to have a boring [all-stars] season. So, I was thrilled to see them vote out Ozzy even though I feel bad for him. (Laughs)

Reality TV World: Sierra seemed to be the only person convinced you had a hidden Immunity Idol...

Hali Ford: Ridiculous.

Reality TV World: Because she said you were playing a much more confident game this time around. Did hearing that surprise you? Did you know Sierra was the one orchestrating your vote off at first?

Hali Ford: No, I didn't know that Sierra was involved in that until people trickled into Ponderosa and talked to me some more about that. I mean, I wasn't mad at Sierra at all really. I just thought she was kind of a pawn, but to see that she was gunning for me almost was shocking.

And I think that maybe she thought that I had an idol, but we just never really connected in Survivor, and I don't know if she has a problem with me or what, but yeah, I was pretty surprised that she thought I had an idol. But I think it just kind of speaks to what she thinks of me as a Survivor.

Reality TV World: So did you personally feel more confident during this season, and if so, why? What brought about the change and what did you do differently this time around?

Hali Ford: I wasn't more confident; I was just present. In my first season, I wasn't present. I just had huge things going on back home and I didn't care about Survivor. This season, I was all in and I was there and I was excited to be there.

I wanted to be involved in every conversation, and I wanted to be proud of what I did out there. So if confidence is engagement, then yeah, I guess I was more confident. But it was just me! I played a truly Hali game this time, and I'm happy with it even though I didn't do any better. I'm okay with what I did out there.

Reality TV World: What details about Jeff Varner's ouster were you aware of before Zeke revealed to the whole merged tribe that he's transgender? And what was your reaction to Zeke's story and the way Varner outed him?

Hali Ford: I didn't know Zeke was trans! I just thought he was a super manly, intelligent dude! He was just like this kind of hipster, quirky guy. I was feeling for [Zeke] because, you know, how would I feel if the most intimate issue of my life got drawn out before the world without my consent?

It was very wrong to take that away from Zeke, but I feel like people have got to give Jeff some grace. I mean, it's just gone way too far -- the conversation. Jeff is a really good guy and I wish that -- I hope he gets a platform to just talk about his heart in it, because he's literally one of the most caring people that I know. This is something crazy and, I think, completely out of character.

Reality TV World: Do you have any regrets? Do you feel you made any mistakes and wish you had done something differently? A couple of castaways I've talked to this season just thought they fell victim to the tribal swaps.

Hali Ford: I don't think I was a victim. You can always scramble in Survivor and play harder and better. So, I'm definitely not putting [my vote-off] on anyone but me. I probably should have cared more to make genuine connections with Sierra and Brad. I did try, especially the last day. I was really pitching to them why we needed to pull in the votes.

But I don't know. If I could go back, I would have thrown the challenge at the "Metamorphosis" word puzzle, just because I wish I had done something that I could put my name on. Like, I really didn't make any big moves this game.

What -- like, I talked a lot at Tribal Council? That's not really a move. I don't really think I did much this season either. So if I could've done one thing, I would've thrown that challenge just because I could have. Yeah, I don't know. I think some people are just more cut out for Survivor than me.

Reality TV World: So would you be interested in playing again, or no?

Hali Ford: I mean, if they really wanted me to come back and the fans really wanted me, like, I enjoy it! But I don't feel like I make great TV, I don't feel like I'm innately awesome at Survivor.

I feel like I'm a really good public defender and a lot of other things that are not Survivor. So, I don't really have a reason to go back unless people really wanted to see me again, then, sure! I'd love to. But I don't see Survivor as where I thrive.

Reality TV World: At this point in the season, whom do you think is playing the best game? Based on the criteria you, as a juror, would have in choosing the winner of Survivor, whom would you give the money to right now?

Hali Ford: I was pulling for Andrea! I think she's a total boss! She's awesome at challenges, she's gorgeous, she's really fun to be around, she's great socially. And she's not bad strategically. I mean, I think she definitely has her brain turned on in the game. So she had my vote.

To read the first half of Hali's exclusive Survivor interview with Reality TV World, click here. To begin reading what Ozzy had to say in his post-elimination interview with us, click here.


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